Brisbane Valley the home of winners
WITH the end of the 2016/17 racing season just two weeks behind us, it's appropriate to look at some vital statistics.
This week we will check out the seven drivers who saluted on more than 100 occasions over the term.
(1) Shane Graham: Starts 1055, wins 185, 2nds 158, 3rds 132, 4ths 129 and prize money earned $1,200,903.
(2) Grant Dixon: 997-172-138-126-111, bank $1,157,581.
(3) Mathew Neilson: 853-140-136-99-82, bank $804,887.
(4) Pete McMullen: 817-129-96-92-89, bank $742,842.
(5) Nathan Dawson: 1038-120-113-118-111, bank $523,620.
(6) Gary Whitaker: 1,129-107-114-106-120, bank $584,662.
(7) Narissa McMullen: 1025-105-125-126-113, bank $625,806.
Four of the centurions came from the greater Ipswich footprint, and, more particularly, from the lower Brisbane Valley.
Given that 34 races were run the past week and 22 winners (65%) had an Ipswich connection, either trained and/or driven, it reinforces the view expressed last week that to consider a "training facility" in the western growth corridor, rather than a Parklands type dual code racing complex, falls far short of requirements and reasonable expectations.
SWITCHING on the lights at Albion Park on the seventh of September 1968 propelled Queensland trotting into the big time.
Like all opening meetings someone has to drive the first winner. On this occasion the honour fell to Sammy Zammit who guided the nuggety chestnut, Curly Adios, to an eight yard victory over Harleray (Kanga Smith).
Sammy, a native of Gozo, an island eight miles from Malta, came with his father Tony to this country in 1949. He arrived as an assisted migrant aged 14, to live with his uncle George Zammit at Eastern Creek.
George was a horse and cattle dealer who raced trotters with a number of trainers.
With no English, but a will to work, Sammy was soon employed at Penfolds winery.
Six months later, the lad found work at home as Tony and George had bought a slaughter yard.
Sammy's progression to harness was automatic and by 1954, he had unearthed his first good one in Frisco Sky.
When I first saw Sammy in action he was a regular at Harold Park, racing Broken Change and Appy Apps.
When working horses at Castle Hill Showground we would see the Zammit delivery truck go past with the two pacers painted on the sides in the white with purple sleeves and maltese cross.
They were proud of their involvement in the light harness sport.
In 1964, the Zammits were based at Redcliffe and into harness full-time.
With them came a team of four pacers, Garrison Gold, Jocks Wonder, Rocky Armagh and Chamcoon.
One success led to another and, as the game grew, so did team Zammit to the point where Sammy and his offsider, the soon to be famous Jimmy O'Sullivan, were working 25 horses.
At this time New Zealand breeding entrepreneur Noel Simpson entered on the scene and provided that all important Curly Adios.
Meanwhile, John McMullen senior placed a number of horses in the camp.
In 1973, there was another shift, this time to Deception Bay and another training complex was constructed. However, the sons were not as passionate about trotting, preferring to train and race greyhounds.
Sammy Zammit retired from the sulky in 1979. Seeing change as inevitable, he subdivided his property and constructed a greyhound trial track which he later donated to the local Council.
It is named Zammit Oval.
A unit on the Gold Coast was the logical next step.
Where is this story headed?
Sammy Zammit 82, passed away last week and his funeral was held yesterday. He was a shining example of the typical post-war Mediterranean migrant, who integrated, worked hard and deservedly made good.
He will be sadly missed.
YESTERDAY'S one qualifying trial at Albion Park was set down to be run from the "angled mobile barrier".
This interesting innovation provides for the arms of the barrier to be slanted across the line of travel of the starting vehicle.
The usual format is that the outer extremity of the arm is in advance of the inner, with the intention of compensating for the additional distance covered by outside runners on their journey towards the rail or "one out" running lines.
The vehicle concerned has been parked in the back straight shed for perhaps 18 years, consigned there because a number of drivers expressed fears that a potential hazard could result from too many horses contesting the lead coming into the first turn.
It is hard to imagine that the same potential does not exist today. However, we are told that the dinosaur is, at this point, aimed at the 1119m Torpedo Stakes races.
So there you have it, the resurrection of two very doubtful concepts.
Maybe this time two wrongs will make a right.
SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight.
R1: E/w 1: Watch Pulp Fiction (C. Turpin).
R2: Quinella 3-6: All After Me (W. Graham) and Bohdi Tree (T. Dixon).
R3: Quinella 1-8: Blue Pointer and Dollar Bill (T. Moffat).
R4: E/w 2: Witha- lotofluck (N. McMullen).
R5: E/w 3: Back Page News (M. Elkins).
R6: Hereiam (A. Sanderson).
R7: Quinella 7-9: Projectile (M. Elkins) and Moonlight Eyre.
R8: Quinella 2-3: Avonnova (A. Sanderson) and Major Cam (M.Neilson).
R10: Box trifecta 2-4-6: Senitas Success (A. Sanderson)-Monorail (R. Jenkins)-Releven Dream.
The leader board shows Brittany Graham out front in the sulky, with four winners for the week. Trevor Lambourn and Darrell Graham tied for training honours at three wins apiece. Most pleasing was Newmerrella Sharkie at Albion Park on Tuesday.
Albion Park, September 8: Jack Hammer (Trevor Lambourn); Gangster Boy (Taleah McMullen for Ryan Veivers); Oliver Winkle (Lachie Manzelmann for Errol Cain); Hereiam (Adam Sanderson for Wayne Graham); Croft Bay (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin).
Albion Park, September 9: Montana Falcon (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); Major Montana (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham).
Albion Park, September 12: Newmerella Sharkie (Brett Towns for Max Towns); Living Grand (Hayden Barnes for Steven Fury); Fire And Ice (Matt Elkins for Vic Frost); The Shady One (Chris Petroff for Trevor Lambourn); With Authority (Pete McMullen for John McMullen); Summertime Lizzie (Adam Sanderson for Shane Graham); Smiling Armada (Chris Petroff for Trevor Lambourn).
Redcliffe, September 13: My Ultimate Fella (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); Blissfulinfidelity (Matt Elkins for Mal Charlton); My Secret Torque (Hayden Barnes for Chantal Turpin).
Redcliffe, September 14: Rocky Carrington (Darrell Graham); Duffy Bromac (Graeme Harris for Francis Weston); Pure Madness (Justin Pascoe); Go Ahead Makemyday (Brittany Graham for Brett Cargill); Buddy Babcock (Nikki Chalk).